Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hello America

I filed for an unemployment-benefits extension today, which I did not know was even possible. I learned of my extension-eligibility from a very helpful state employee at the Greenville-area One-Stop center yesterday.

And so, I girded my loins and prepared for today's long bureaucratic process at the unemployment office, where I have not been since November.

I am always somewhat obsessed with bean-counting the minute I enter the unemployment office. It is just so glaringly obvious. Today, about 50 people, give or take (very hard to count precisely, since people are constantly entering and exiting)... with only three white men in attendance, and they all appeared to be over 40. The rest of us, women of all colors and ages, and black men, all ages.

As I said, interesting.

Ever since I started counting, the results have been more or less the same.

My question: Are the young white men really staying employed en masse during this economic crisis, or are they too proud to apply for unemployment?


At left: Interior of Greenville Mall, around the time I worked there. (from

The One-Stop center is in an old shopping mall, McAlister Square, that has been utterly transformed--you might say the building was recycled. I used to take my daughter there when she was a child; I recall St Patrick's Day and Halloween events that she loved. And now, when I walk in, it is still jarring to me that it is no longer a shopping mall. But I am so glad they managed to find some good purpose for it.

There is a website that I find fascinating,, since I am one of those people who actually worries about the proliferation of big-box stores and malls. I often wonder WHAT ON EARTH we will ever do with them.

Ever since I read JG Ballard's Hello America, I've wondered what these entities will be in 100-200 years from now. I imagine the enormous suburban office buildings chopped up into tiny apartments; I see the big-box stores turned into homeless shelters for hundreds of people... or possibly turned into hospitals, schools, or condos. What else could you do with them? Simply knock them down when they are no longer needed?

Greenville Mall, where I worked for awhile and had one of my fender-benders, is now gone; torn down some time ago. It was once the big deal around here, and now it is history. I think of it as a symbol of the fleeting nature of fads and fashion and why it's futile to try to be cool. (Buddhist aside: Empty malls that once attracted the moneyed young, filled to overflowing with hustle and bustle, are a good subject for anicca [impermanence] meditation.)

Cool lasts for a week or a day, and then something else is cool. I always tell people, I was totally cool for about an hour in the late 70s, during which time I visited both Max's and CBGB's. But the hour passed, and I descended back into my usual uncoolness.

It was a nice hour while it lasted.


JoJo said...

You mean you can't do your unemployment stuff online? Wow.

I do whatever I can to avoid malls. I loathe them. In all the times I went to Victoria BC, I never once set foot inside The Bay, the mall in the middle of the city. It was more fun to hit the small, independently owned local shops. When I was a teenager, going to the Mall was a way of life, but I sure grew out of that phase quickly.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Jojo, not the extension, which is in effect a whole re-application process. (Ugh)

Congress is currently trying to take away the UI extensions, so I think I mighta got in right under the wire.